Janalee J. Greene, MDA, RD, CD, Primrose Nutrition Consulting LLC

For most, the holiday season fills our minds with many wonderful memories. It is truly amazing how food can take us back to a special time. Just a single bite of your favorite tried-and-true, generations-old recipe, and you’re in heaven. It is no secret that preparing some of these holiday favorites usually has us spending hours in the kitchen preparing the perfect meal that is usually consumed in a matter of minutes.

This leaves a dilemma: What to do with all those leftovers? Especially in households where the term leftovers is almost a dirty word. Not to fear! I have ideas that will use up your leftovers without your family even knowing they are leftovers.

The first key to any good meal is food safety. It is easy to get caught up in conversation or the big game and, before you realize it, a few hours have passed. Did you remember to put the holiday feast away? Here are three food safety tips that will help keep your leftovers delicious and safe to eat:

  • Refrigerate leftovers within two hours.
  • Cool leftovers quickly by slicing large cuts of meat and storing foods in smaller, shallow, air-tight containers.
  • Write the date on your leftovers and use them within one week if stored in the fridge. If frozen, a food’s shelf life is typically extended to one to three months, depending on the food. Visit the USDA website (fsis.usda.gov) for more details.

With leftovers that are safe to eat, you can begin to design new meal ideas to fill the tummies of those you love throughout the week ahead. Below is a list of some favorite holiday foods re-purposed:

  • Bread: Croutons, French toast, breadcrumbs, sandwiches
  • Ham: Ham-balls, breakfast casserole
  • Turkey: California turkey cranberry sandwich, turkey and wild rice soup, Oriental turkey salad, turkey quinoa burrito bowl
  • Cranberry sauce: Orange cranberry sandwich spread, smoothies, cranberry muffins, cranberry syrup
  • Mashed potatoes: Potato pancakes, cinnamon rolls, Italian gnocchi soup
  • Sweet potato: Sweet potato pancakes, sweet potato muffins or pancakes, sweet potato sandwich spread
  • Pie: Pie-flavored ice cream, pie truffles

For additional ideas and recipes, visit: primrosenutrition.com/recipe